At first, Friend was reluctant to relinquish the name Anusara. But eventually he signed control of his trademark over to the teachers, since he no longer needs it. As he sees it, the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga is Anusara 2.0 — and Sridaiva is Anusara 7.0.

********************

"I've never been with a group like this on New Year's Eve. This is fantastic."

John Friend teaching Sridaiva at Vital Yoga.
Anthony Camera
John Friend teaching Sridaiva at Vital Yoga.
Desi (left) and Micah Springer invited John Friend to Denver.
Anthony Camera
Desi (left) and Micah Springer invited John Friend to Denver.

Beaming, Friend surveys the nearly fifty people sitting on yoga mats arranged in a special celebratory circle in Vital Yoga's Sky Room. There are lithe young women and gray-haired grandmothers, mothers and daughters, pregnant women and guys covered in tattoos. They're here for a special New Year's Eve Sridaiva class, taught by Friend and Desi, who's wearing a festive black yoga outfit for the occasion.

If Friend is mentally comparing this New Year's event to those of years past — like the grand Anusara happening he'd been planning at Chichén Itzá for the Mayan "apocalypse" in December 2012 before his company fell apart, or the 2009 Wiccan winter solstice ritual he participated in that ended up as tabloid fodder — there's no indication on his jubilant face. "Denver has been a godsend," he tells the crowd. "Sometimes the worst things that happen can be that which sparks us to start completely anew. Something great can come from something terrible. I am really happy to be here."

And with that, Friend and Desi, taking turns, lead the students through two hours of Sridaiva poses, including difficult moves like one-legged poses, backbends and handstands. At the end, nearly everyone is sitting on their mats with noticeable curves in their spines. It looks like the beginnings of a new kula, a new merry band of devoted disciples.

"I personally am entering this year with the most optimism and mind opening that I've had maybe ever in my life," Friend declares triumphantly.

He knows that his tale of ruin and redemption can be hard to take at face value. He knows that the "unbelievable cosmic irony" of one of the few yoga studios willing to take him in also holding the secret ingredient to his ultimate yoga system can come off as a bit much; as he writes in an e-mail, "I realize that my claims about my new understanding of postural alignment can sound outrageously unbelievable under the terrible circumstances of me and so many others losing so much due to the scandal." He knows that his discarding of Anusara in favor of Sridaiva will seem like one more slight against the thousands of disciples who already believe he's let them down. "I realize that some former students feel offended and even hoaxed if I state that Sridaiva now describes the optimal template more precisely and simply than any other alignment model I have ever used," he notes.

But he can't let that stop him. "Because of how it went down, people lost their studios or their businesses, and that's horrific. But we all have to go on. We all have to pick ourselves back up and do the best we can," he says. "People want me to continue to suffer. But you know what? I want to improve, and I am going to try to evolve." His mother always told him that when things fall apart, he should look for patterns in the wreckage left behind — and the pattern he found in the aftermath of Anusara's implosion ended up being more incredible than he ever could have imagined. "I want to show that the guy they tried to knock out completely is not only back," he says, "but he's back with something revolutionary."

Divine destiny.

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10 comments
johnkmlee66
johnkmlee66

Good for Desi and Micah.  Wish you well John.

Erica Rosenthal
Erica Rosenthal

Who gives a shit if he slept with married students? It was probably just making the workout better

mosborne3
mosborne3

Just get into bouldering or rock climbing. 

Don Finley
Don Finley

Who said the pot law wouldn't bring in a higher class of people and business owners? lol

WillieStortz
WillieStortz

Is it just me or does this pervert look just like Jerry Sandusky? There must be something in the genetics of those types. 


Thanks for the heads up, it's always good to know when a sexual predator is lurking in my neighborhood and working at local businesses.

westwordreader
westwordreader

Friend tells reporter Joel Warner: “I really want my sex life and my other personal sacred and spiritual practices held privately, and not made public by others who don't respect such boundaries.” The article never mentions that John’s business partner, Desi Springer, is by all accounts his romantic partner, as well. Why would acknowledging that embarrass this yoga power couple?

I took a class with John and Desi and he was amazing and charismatic, a terrific teacher. They have palpable and powerful chemistry. They travel the world together, and he signs his emails “Desi and John.” And this reporter can’t write about that?

Did Friend's “aqua-blue eyes flashing with enthusiasm” – not to mention those beefy thighs and fabulous grounded feet! – get to you, Joel?   I understand!

anotherwwreader
anotherwwreader

@westwordreader 


It's that kind of groupie-talk that both enabled and got him into trouble in the first place. The only thing that has changed (judging from his 'medical marijuana' card) is his realization that he would do well to erect stronger boundaries of 'privacy' regarding distances between the walk and the talk. 


Otherwise, he apparently still actively courts and promotes such googly-eyed praise and endorsements as yours.


Yes, the article went easy on him in some respects, especially with regard to details such as the one you mention.

 
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